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A Fine Perspective

BY Robert Cassidy Jr. ON April 12, 2006
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On Thursday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission fined trainer Roger Mayweather $200,000 and revoked his license after he charged the ring in the 10th round and helped make a debacle out of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Zab Judah fight.

Boxing is a passionate game, for the participants and often for those with a stake in the participants. It doesn’t matter whether that stake is financial or simply just emotional. In this case, it was both. Nevertheless, when passions and punches and low blows collide, it is no surprise that things sometimes get carried away. Particularly when a fight is slipping away.

While Mayweather Jr.’s $5 million purse has been released, Judah’s purse is still being held as the Nevada commission will continue to review the events of the 10th round.

According to commissioner Marc Ratner, Mayweather’s $200,000 fine is the largest levied against a cornerman in Nevada. The largest fine in that state remains the $3 million Mike Tyson was hit with after he bit both of Evander Holyfield’s ears.

Mayweather will have the opportunity to reapply for his license after one year.

From an historical perspective, the fine is on par with Rock Newman’s penalty for the infamous Riddick Bowe-Andrew Golota riot at Madison Square Garden. The events in Las Vegas last week did not disintegrate into the mess that permeated the Garden, but there was clearly potential for a similar type of riot.

Lou Duva was once fined for not allowing the ringside physician to examine a cut fighter fast enough. But cornermen are generally fined for incessant talking from the corner. Norman Stone, former manager of John Ruiz, was kicked out of his fighter’s corner in the Andrew Golota fight because he was yelling obscenities at the referee. Earlier in that fight, Stone changed the ring and raised his hands at Golota’s trainer before being separated. After that night, Stone was fined $1,000 and suspended six months by the New York State Athletic Commission.

When Mayweather stormed the ring in the 10th round after Judah hit his nephew low, and then behind the head, it was not the first time, nor will it be the last, that such an act occurs. It wasn’t even the first time Mayweather was involved in such a situation. After he defeated Vinny Pazienza in 1988, The Black Mamba laid a right hand on Paz’s trainer Lou Duva after Sweet Lou stormed the ring.

In Ruiz’s last fight, Stone was involved in a melee after Nicolay Valuev was given a controversial decision against Ruiz. And who can forget Rock Newman’s chokehold on Elijah Tillery when he fought Riddick Bowe in 1991?

One of the more infamous – and comical – events of non-participants storming the ring occurred at Sunnyside Garden in the 1960s when a local Queens fighter was taking punishment from an opponent. The local pug’s wife climbed up into the ring and began hitting the opponent with her shoe. This prompted the opponent’s wife to climb into the ring and do the same. The fighter shall go nameless as he still retains a potent left hook and the author does not wish to experience that.

Really, this kind of thing has been going on since the days of John L. Sullivan. In 1889, after Sullivan vanquished Jake Kilrain in the 75th round to retain the heavyweight title, he focused his gaze on Kilrain’s pesky cornerman, Charlie Mitchell. Mitchell, who fought John L. in 1883 and 1888, had been heckling Sullivan throughout the bout. When it was over, Sullivan strode toward the corner and issued a challenge to Mitchell. Mitchell stepped forward and moved to the fray, but they were separated before punches were thrown. Finally, cooler heads prevailed and all were escorted from the ring.

Here are some other times when cooler heads did not prevail.

July 11, 1996: Riddick Bowe vs. Andrew Golota. Although he was winning the fight, Golota repeatedly hits Bowe under the belt and is disqualified in the seventh round. With that, Bowe’s promoter Rock Newman and several members of his entourage storm the ring. One camp member hit Golota over the head with a mobile phone and a full-scale riot broke out at the Garden. Fans fought fans and chairs were being tossed. One of the more horrifying scenes of the event was that of Lou Duva, Golota’s cornerman, then 74, being carried away from the melee on a stretcher.

The result: Twenty-four people were injured, included nine New York City cops, during the riot. Eleven people were arrested, including Jason Harris, the Bowe entourage member who hit Golota with the cell phone. Fines of a million dollars were initially levied against Bowe and Newman. They were later reduced to $200,000. Newman also made a $50,000 donation to charity. He was suspended from working a Bowe fight for one year in New York, New Jersey and Nevada. He was able, however, to buy a ticket to the Bowe-Golota rematch in Atlantic City five months later. That bout also resulted in Golota being disqualified.

March 18, 1991: After the first Razor Ruddock-Mike Tyson fight is stopped prematurely, Ruddock’s promoter Murad Muhammad takes part in an ugly brawl inside the ring immediately after the bout. Muhammad actually lands a kick to the face of Richie Giachetti, Tyson’s trainer at the time, who was on the floor grappling with Ruddock’s brother, Delroy.

The result: Nevada fines Muhammad $25,000, the highest for a non-boxer until the Mayweather fine. He is also suspended for one year. The rematch, sans Muhammad, between Tyson and Ruddock takes place in Nevada three months later. Tyson wins a decision.

January 11, 1952: Ernie Durando vs. Rocky Castellano. Castellano, who had been dropped twice in the bout, was saved from further punishment in the 7th round. Referee Ray Miller stopped the fight. Castellano was managed by Tommy Ryan – AKA Tommy Eboli – a known underworld figure. When the bout was stopped, Eboli charged the ring and began throwing punches at Miller. Later, when Al Weill, Durando’s manager and later the manager of Rocky Marciano, entered Castellano’s dressing room, Eboli attacked him as well. It is believed that Eboli felt he was double-crossed by Weill over a wager on the outcome of the fight. Two years later, Castellano won a lopsided decision over Durando.

The result: Eboli had his license revoked and was arrested for assault.

September 29, 1945: Rocky Graziano vs. Harold Green. In a bout that which Green would later say he bribed to take a dive against the Rock, Graziano reversed two previous losses to the Brooklyn middleweight with a third-round knockout. This is not the place to debate whether or not Green actually took a dive, but moments after he was counted out, Green sprung to his feet in a rage. His cornerman, Charles Duke, bolted into the ring and both began hurling punches at Graziano.

The result: Green was fined $1,000 and suspended one year for inciting a riot. Duke had his licensed revoked for life. There was never an investigation into whether the fight was fixed.

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